Tel: 804.864.1100

Tel: 804.864.1100

Brian Greene

Delaware Implementing Purchase of Receivables Program for Electricity Suppliers

At long last, the Delaware Public Service Commission entered an order adopting Delmarva Power’s proposed purchase of receivables (“POR”) program effective July 1, 2019. We previously blogged on this issue when Delmarva initially filed its proposal. The effective date was delayed by one month, but Delmarva will purchase suppliers’ receivables effective the end of May so that suppliers are not harmed by the delay.

The going-in rates for the first year of the program are in the table below. These are important because they represent the “haircut” that suppliers must accept when Delmarva purchases their receivables.

Residential Small commercial Large commercial Hourly Priced (LGS, GSP, GST)
Payment factor 99.3833% 99.6591% 99.8818% 100.00%
Discount factor 0.6167% 0.3409% 0.1182% 0.0000%

For more information, please contact one of our energy lawyers.

Delmarva Power Files Proposed DE Purchase of Receivables

transmission towers for electricityAfter years of proceedings at the Delaware Public Service Commission, the end – or the beginning – is in sight. In late March, Delmarva Power filed its proposed Purchase of Receivables (POR) program, including the going-in discount rates, with the Delaware Commission. With a POR program, the utility purchases the receivables of the retail electric supplier operating on the system, which helps to level the playing field between suppliers and the utility which has the right to disconnect service for non-payment.

Delmarva recommends that the program take effect for service rendered on June 1, 2019, as the Commission has previously directed. The discount rates are important because those are the “discounts” that retail suppliers must accept in allowing the utility to purchase the receivable. Delmarva proposes the following discount rates for the first year of the program:

Class Discount Rate
Residential 0.6167%
Small C&I 0.3409%
Large C&I 0.1182%
Hourly Priced Service 0.0%

 

It is expected that the Commission will consider the POR proposal at one of its May administrative meetings, in time for the program to being June 1, 2019. For more information, please contact one of our energy lawyers.

Maryland PSC Requests Comments on New RFP for Retail Suppliers

The Maryland Public Service Commission issued a Notice of Opportunity to Comment seeking comments on a new “Retail Supplier Load Shaping RFP.” The Commission want to consider “programs designed to demonstrate the ability to shape residential load profiles using innovative business models.” Comments on the RFP, a copy of which is attached to the Notice, are due April 9, 2019.

The RFP states that:

“The primary goal of this RFP is to identify pilots that demonstrate an ability to shape customer load profiles through load shifting, peak shaving, and energy efficiency. Applicants can propose any mechanism for load shaping such as sending appropriate price signals (real time rates), using technology to control usage (controllable thermostats), payment of rebates or behavioral modification treatments. A secondary goal is to test whether load shaping can lower customer bills or reduce the customers’ overall effective rate for electricity by avoiding energy usage during high cost periods. Customer satisfaction will be surveyed at the pilot’s conclusion.”

There’s some background here. In early 2017, the Commission established Public Conference 44 with various working groups. Three working groups involved areas where the retail supply market could be improved or could expand to provide additional services to Maryland customers. One of those working groups involved rate design issues and sought to develop TOU pilot programs. The Commission approved TOU programs for the utilities, which are now being marketed to customers. The Commission also approved an RFP to establish retail supplier programs. However, and the Commission in November 2018 issued a letter order holding that the bids received were not compliant and directed the utilities to reject them.

The Commission has now proposed changes to the prior RFP and has issued the current Notice to elicit more involvement from retail suppliers in a rate design program. The Commission seems determined to engage the retail supplier community in this effort, stating that, “[a]s Maryland moves forward with grid modernization, the retail supply community can play an important role in supporting policy goals, including more active efforts to shape load profiles.”

If you have questions or would like more information about community solar projects or other regulatory issues, contact Brian Greene or any of our mid-Atlantic energy lawyers.

Virginia Commission Denies Walmart’s Request to Shop for Electricity

On February 25, 2019, the Virginia State Corporation Commission entered a Final Order denying Walmart’s petitions seeking permission under Va. Code § 56-577(A)(4) (“Section A 4”) to aggregate or combine the demands of certain electricity accounts. Walmart had filed a petition to aggregate 120 accounts in the Dominion service territory and 44 accounts in the Appalachian Power service territories. Had the petitions been approved, Walmart intended to enter into a contract to purchase electricity from its affiliate, Texas Retail Energy, but would remain as a distribution customers of the utilities. But, the Commission denied both petitions.

Under § 56-577(A)(4), nonresidential customers can aggregate their load to hit the 5 MW floor needed to switch electricity supply from the customer’s utility to a competitive service provider (“CSP”). Section A 4 requires the customers to seek Commission approval to aggregate. A company like Walmart must seek permission because the Code treats non-contiguous sites that are under 5 MW as separate customers. The Commission may approve the petition if it finds that: (1) “neither such customers’ incumbent electric utility nor retail customers of such utility that do not choose to obtain electric energy from alternate suppliers will be adversely affected in a manner contrary to the public interest by granting such petition,” and (2) “approval of such petition is consistent with the public interest.”

In the Final Order, the Commission found that remaining customers would be adversely affected in a manner contrary to the public interest. The Commission cited to alleged costs that would be shifted to remaining customers attributable to the loss of Walmart’s load. The Commission also cited to the alleged bill impacts that the utilities presented in the cases which purported to show the increases to an average residential customer’s monthly bills in the event Walmart was allowed to shop. The Commission also cited to the potential for lower earned returns for the utilities and found that the potential for load growth in a utility service territory did not matter.

The Commission determined that “the harm to customers who do not, or cannot, switch to a CSP is contrary to the public interest.” The Commission noted that the vast majority of Dominion and APCo customers have no ability to shop for solely lower prices. The Commission discussed that since 2007, the average Dominion and APCo residential customer has seen monthly bills increase by $48 (73%) and $26 (29%), respectively, and that with the mandates in Senate Bill 966, passed in 2018, more increases are likely to come.

Of course, there were numerous arguments presented by Walmart and other parties in the proceedings that addressed and countered the Commission’s findings summarized above.

The Commission concluded that if Walmart believes the current statutory structure results in rates that are too high, or that the public policy of Virginia should be to institute retail choice on a far more extensive scale than required under current law, “its potential for recourse may be found through the legislative process.” That process would begin with the 2020 legislative session because the 2019 sessions ended on Sunday, February 24 — the day before the Commission entered the Final Order.

The case numbers are PUR-2017-00173 (Dominion) and PUR-2017-00174 (APCo). Follow those links to see all the documents, including the Final Order, filed in each case. If you have questions about these cases, electricity purchases or rates, or need legal counsel regarding electricity regulation, please contact one of our Virginia regulatory lawyers.

What’s the Latest on Supplier Consolidated Billing?

transmission towers for electricityWe have blogged previously about a petition filed at the Maryland Public Service Commission by five electric and natural gas retail suppliers seeking implementation of supplier consolidated billing (SCB). We did a video about it when the petition was filed, and our last blog on this topic was in February 2018, just after the legislative-style hearing concluded in Baltimore.

In the blog, you’ll see that we summarized the events at the hearing and even provided a picture of the four supplier witnesses testifying before the Commission, along with Brian Greene of our firm, so that everyone could get a feel for what it’s like to appear before the Commission (from the view of the Commissioners, no less!).

So what happened in the case since then, you ask?

In May 2018, the Commission issued this Notice of Briefing Schedule, requesting comments primarily on the legal issue of whether Maryland statutes allow a supplier utilizing SCB to initiate the disconnect process if the customer does not pay. Parties, including the petitioners, submitted comments on June 14 and June 28. We are now awaiting a Commission order or further guidance.

There’s also an SCB proceeding pending at the Pennsylvania Commission. On June 14, 2018, the Commission held a legislative-style hearing that will continue on July 12, 2018. You can get more info on the Pennsylvania proceeding here.  Delaware is also moving towards an SCB proceeding, with a recent Hearing Examiner’s report in Docket No. 15-1693 recommending approval of a Stipulated Order that calls for a new docket to be opened now to address whether SCB is permitted in and should be adopted in Delaware.

If you have questions about SCB or electric or natural gas retail service in general, please contact one of GreeneHurlocker’s energy and regulatory lawyers.

Moves Towards Supplier Consolidated Billing

In this Energy Update, Brian Greene explains how Maryland’s Public Service Commission is soliciting comments on the implementation of supplier consolidated billing. For more information about billing plans and regulation, contact Brian or any of our mid-Atlantic energy lawyers.

Final Thoughts

Sunday, 2:55 AM EST — We made it home last night around 7:30-ish. The parents greeted their weary kids (and chaperones) with hugs and smiles, and everyone scattered. 

Ruth was a sight for sore eyes. I really missed her! Once home, I got showered and bourbonized, both of which felt fantastic. Avi had a hard time unwinding but he finally passed out. 

Right now it’s 2:55 AM EST — 3:55 PM in Saitama — and I’m wide awake after about 4 hours of sleep. This same thing happened to me in Saitama the first 4 or 5 nights, which gave me a chance to blog in the mornings. I had a lot more time to blog than I had anticipated! It figures that once my body adjusted to Tokyo Time, it was time to come home. The blog took on a life of its own but I’m hoping I accomplished my goals of keeping those Stateside in the loop and also making a record that Avi and I can share for many years. 

I already miss my new Japanese friends. I will miss running around being silly with 23 awesome and wide-eyed kids who love baseball and adventure. I will miss spending time with my fellow chaperones who threw themselves into Japanese culture wholeheartedly and unabashedly. I loved being part of this team that took these kids to Japan.

Going back to work will be rude, I’m sure. Brian Shepard and I were talking on the bus from Dulles and we both feel like everything at our work is under control. It will take time to dig out, which is expected. It’s the stuff we don’t know about (yet) that happened while we were gone that makes us nervous! 

Before I sign off, I want to give huge props to Brian Shepard, our fearless leader, for organizing this trip and for committing the time and energy to make it work. 

Thanks also to Deborah Knighton for taking care of travel atrangements and for all the other stuff she did behind the scenes that none of us knows about. There are others to thank, as many contributed to the success of this trip, but Brian and Deborah were instrumental.

And thank you to Akiko, Shimizu, and all of the wonderful people in Japan that showed us great time. Staying in Akiko’s home, I saw firsthand the organization, time, communication skills, and energy needed on a daily basis to run one of these visits. It’s a LOT of work. I hope they slept in this morning.

So that’s a wrap. Thus endeth the trip and this blog. If anyone has any questions about this trip, future trips, or the exchange program in general, please send them my way. It will give me a chance to talk about this amazing experience. 

Sayonara and Kampai! 

Brian

On Our Way Home… (with updates)

6:07 PM: We’re on the bus. Bad news — there’s traffic to get on to 95. But, we stopped and got the kids cheese sticks, granola bars and water. We got some Adult Soda…


3:05: PM EST: The Eagle has landed. Lots of tired-looking kids in red shirts on this flight. Let’s get ’em home!

2:50 PM EST: We are beginning our descent into Dulles. And if anyone was wondering, my fave part of The Godfather was when they kill the guy in a car and the heavy guy says, “Get the cannoli!”  Feeling a bit punchy right now…

5:55 PM: We’re in the air, on our way to The United States of America. We should arrive at Dulles around 3:20 PM EST. I’m watching The Godfather and Avi is watching Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Charlie and JD are enjoying the flight so far….


3:30 PM: We have boarded!


2:20 PM: We have made it through security and are at gate 31 at the Tokyo airport. Other than security finding five water bottles (one at a time ) in Harper Perry’s carry-on, things are running smoothly. Everyone is roaming the duty-free shops, grabbing something to eat and drink, and gearing up for the marathon flight home.

12:05: PM — I’ll post a few as we travel home today. Right now we’re at an outlet mall eating lunch at a California Pizza Kitchen. We think this is part of the U. S. re-entry program. I’m told the airport is 15 minutes away. 

Days 7 & 8 — Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I was unable to do a full Day 7 blog yesterday but the game blogs should give you an idea of how we spent our Friday morning. Won 1, tied 1. That puts our 2017 Japan record at 1-3-2, but it doesn’t matter. If you saw the kids at the big fireworks event last night, you would have seen that friendships, not baseball, is really what this trip is about. Baseball is really the facilitator to forge all these relationships. 

Ok enough philosophy. After the game yesterday Shimizu (basically the head of Saitama baseball) took Brian Shepard, Stephen Spraker and me to a Japanese spa. Quick shout out to Boyd Bullock and Scott Coleman, whom Shimizu took to the spa 2 years ago. We asked if Boyd and Scott enjoyed the spa, and Shimizu said they did very much and that they “swam around like puppies.” That sealed it for us. We had to go to the spa.

It starts with a hot whrlpool and then we went to an outside pool of very hot water. After that, a shower and then a dip into cold water, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Ok hold on. I’m writing this at breakfast and Akiko just put this on the table:


That’s French toast, pineapple, yogurt, salad and chocolate chip muffins and coffee. I don’t think I’ll need lunch today. 

Back to the spa– it took about an hour. There’s a small cafe there so we grabbed a Sapporo afterwards.  It was very relaxing and a great way to spend the last full day in Japan. The Japanese men were very impressed with Spraker. I’ll leave that at that!

Last night was a huge fireworks show. This is a Japanese national holiday. Akiko says it’s Mountain Day which is a fairly new holiday because there were no national holidays in the month of August. Imagine the July 4 fireworks at the Carrillon on steroids and with better food and you can walk around with beer.  Sounds fun, right?

I’m now on the bus headed for Tokyo. We’ll see a temple this morning and then stop at an outlet mall for pizza before the plane. 

We said goodbye to our host families just now at the Urawa stadium. These families are the sweetest nicest people and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for us and our kids. It’s a huge commitment of time and resources and they never complain and treat us like kings (and in Ruthie’s and Annabelle’s case, queens). Domo Arigato!

Here’s a picture of Akiko, Tomohiro, their daughter Shiori and me. Shiori came to Richmond a few years ago and stayed with the Lifsons.  They and their son Shunta showed me a phenomenal week and I’m very thankful. And I found out last night that Tomohiro is a big Huey Lewis & the News fan so I was happy to be stuck with him and his family! 


See you soon Richmond, and sayonara Saitama!